Casinos and Free Play: Why Many States Limit Complimentary Play

Free Pass Ticket With a Casino Background

Casinos use a variety of methods to encourage gamblers to visit them. Free drinks, meals, hotel stays, and more are all part of the agenda.

Land-based casinos also issue complimentary play (a.k.a. free play) to draw players, too. Free play is a highly effective promotion that can bring many people through the doors.

However, gambling establishments aren’t allowed to issue complimentary play at will. Many states put a limit on how often casinos can use these promos.

What’s the deal behind states controlling free offers from casinos? You can find out below by reading more on these promotions along with reasons behind the limitations.

What Is Complimentary Play?

Land-based casinos typically make you risk money to play every game. If you want to play slots, for example, you’ll need to insert one or more bills in the receptor. Assuming you wish to enjoy table games, you will have to exchange your cash for chips.

However, casinos sometimes offer free play to draw new customers or bring existing ones back through the doors.

Here’s an example on how this works:

  • A casino mails a voucher offering you $25 in free blackjack play.
  • You take advantage of this deal by showing up to the casino.
  • You show the voucher to the dealer and collect $25 worth of chips.

This $25 gives you an opportunity to win free money. Even if you don’t win anything, you’ll at least get free entertainment out of the deal.

Why Do Casinos Offer Free Play?

The act of giving away free play seems counterproductive to a casino’s goals. After all, they’ll lose money on these promotions over time.

However, casinos usually gain more money from these offers than they lose. They benefit from complimentary play through two major ways:

  1. Recruit new players.
  2. Bring back existing customers.

Drawing new gamblers isn’t always easy for casinos. The most sure way to accomplish this goal, though, is by giving away something for free.

Existing players don’t always show up on a consistent basis. But free play is a powerful motivator to get back into the casino.

Casino Hotel VIP Check-In

Casinos hope that the people who take their free play offers will stay and continue gambling. Here’s an example on how this works:

  • The casino issues you $20 in free slots play.
  • You spin the reels for 20 minutes and lose all $20.
  • Since you’re already in the casino, you insert $40 throughout the next hour and lose the rest.
  • The casino has now made $40 total off of your visit.

Of course, casinos still get gamblers who only want to use their complimentary voucher. But even these people sometimes spend money in other areas (e.g. dining, shopping).

States Put Limits on Complimentary Play

You’d think that only casinos get to decide how much free play they allow. However, they must consider what their states say about the matter first.

Many states have gambling laws surrounding complimentary vouchers. They limit the amount of free play that a casino can offer in a day, week, or year. Furthermore, each employee is only allowed to give away so much complimentary play. Only certain employees can distribute these vouchers.

Gambling establishments must take these limitations seriously too. Otherwise, they’ll face steep fines for failing to follow state laws.

Rivers Casino Philadelphia and Mount Airy Casino Resort both found this out the hard way. Each received a $140,000 fine from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Reasons for Limiting Free Play

State governments cap the amount of comped play that gambling casinos can offer for multiple reasons. You can read about the main reasons below. But always remember that laws vary from state to state, so don’t assume the laws in one state are the same as the laws in a different state.

Encourage Responsible Gaming

Politicians often ask about safeguards in place for gamblers before legalizing the matter. After all, they don’t want to approve a bill that causes mass problem gambling throughout their state.

Most of these safeguards have to do with bigger issues, such as barring players who are on self-exclusion lists. Other issues, though, deal with smaller matters like complimentary play.

Regulators don’t want casinos going crazy and mass mailing vouchers to every household across the state. Therefore, comped play is limited to some degree.

Prevent Employee Fraud

Nefarious employees with credentials to offer free play could run a scam. They can collude with one or more gamblers and continue offering them free vouchers. Afterward, the group splits the profits.

Mount Airy Casino Floor

Such an incident happened at PA’s Mount Airy Casino. In 2017, Ashley Brosius developed an elaborate scheme involving stolen names and information from players club cards.

Brosius used this info to offer a co-conspirator a fortune in free slots play. Over a year’s time, she issued $140,000 worth of complimentary play to the gambler.

Overall, though, casinos don’t need to worry about these issues as much when they can’t legally offer unlimited free vouchers. Any irregularities are easier to identify when they do happen.

Stop Casinos From Cheating on Taxes

Casino employees aren’t the only ones who are capable of running scams. The casinos themselves could theoretically run a gambit to cheat the tax system.

Although unlikely, a casino could use complimentary play to write off more losses. They can simply claim that they lost millions of dollars in free play, for example, when they only lost hundreds of thousands.

A limitation on free play doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a casino wouldn’t try something like this. It does, however, greatly reduce the chances.

The odds of casinos doing this are small because a casino that’s run correctly can make plenty of profit by doing things legally. Casinos don’t want IRS issues any more than you or I want them.

Prevent a Race to the Bottom

The gaming industry is very competitive, especially in saturated markets like New Jersey, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania. With no cap on complimentary vouchers, casinos might become overcompetitive with free play.

The end result would be gambling venues offering way too many coupons and vouchers. This effect could create a race to the bottom, whereby casinos feel forced to give out excessive free play just to keep up.

Regulators can prevent this from happening through limits. Therefore, nobody has a chance to start this race to the bottom.

How Can You Take Advantage of Complimentary Play?

You can see that there are logical reasons why states only let casinos give out so many free vouchers. Even with these limitations, though, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to capitalize on freebies.

Here are some of the different ways that you can scoop up comped play:

  • Join the rewards program
  • Mailers
  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Social media

The first point is key to getting rewarded. You need to join a casino’s loyalty program before you start receiving offers.

You can join a VIP program either in person or through a casino’s website. The latter is preferable if you want to start gambling and qualify for rewards right away.

Casino Player's Club Desk

Once a member of the VIP plan, you’ll receive plenty of offers through the mail, email, and/or text. You can also visit a casino’s social media pages to see what’s available.

With enough diligence, you’ll eventually find free play. You might even consider joining the loyalty programs of several casinos to maximize the freebies.

Most gambling establishments offer complimentary slots play above all. Some also provide free bets for table games, too.

Start Gambling and Earning Casino Comps Today

Many states limit how much comped play casinos can offer for a variety of reasons. They want to prevent potential fraud, protect problem gamblers, and ensure that casinos don’t race to the bottom with free vouchers.

With that said, the amount of complimentary play opportunities you’ll enjoy are capped to some degree. Nevertheless, you can still look forward to more than enough freebies.

Everything starts with joining the loyalty program. From here, you’ll receive offers through a variety of avenues. You can use all of these opportunities to rack up free play and earn other rewards, too.